In step 7 of the design process, you established the prizes that winners receive after completing the challenge. In that article, I listed all of the standard prizes that restaurants typically give out including the meal free, free restaurant apparel, cash, gift cards, and other prizes. If you haven’t yet, please read Step 7: Establish The Prizes For Winning. Some restaurants do get creative and award other prizes that are pretty unique. You may want to award unique prizes for winning your restaurant’s challenge too. After researching and confirming over 3,000 food challenges around the world and finding out all of the restaurant and food challenge details, I have seen quite a few unique challenge prizes. I have also received a few pretty unique prizes for winning food challenges too. At the same time though, I have also received and seen prizes that are just simply a waste of money and effort by the restaurant because they are unnecessary and not fully appreciated by the winners. Here is a list of all of those prizes to give additional ideas so you can make your own decisions about the prizes you will award:

A gift card or menu item each month for 1 year – This is typically a prize for winning very large food challenges. One restaurant as a prize awards a $50 restaurant gift card per month for 1 year totaling $600 for defeating their 4 star burger challenge. A few different pizza restaurants award 1 free pizza per month for 1 year for beating their pizza challenge. These are good prizes for getting people to return to your restaurant, and they spread out the cost of your challenge prize over a year’s time rather than all up front when the person wins. You will learn that Eaters Can Be Your Best Promoters so it can be smart to keep your challenge winners happy so they are more likely to tell their friends about your food. A very attractive prize like this is easy to promote too.

Trending Electronics – These are typically for bigger challenges too, but some restaurants award smart phones, Ipads, or flat-screen televisions for winning their challenge. This especially works for owners that are able to get the items at a significant discount too. The prize value is the same as retail to the winners, no matter what you actually paid for it. If a person really wants an Ipad, he or she will spend $40 attempting your challenge and trying to win the Ipad before going and spending all of his or her money buying a new one, so think about that.

10% Off Discount Or Free Drink For Life – Some challenges award winners a discount or free item every time they come in for life. This is definitely a great prize that keeps people coming back to your restaurant. The discount is typically between 10% and 25% if a discount is awarded, and the item is usually a free drink or small side item if that is the prize. The prize sounds a lot better than it really is too because the chances of that person coming back that often (unless the person lives close) are slim, and 10% is not a big discount, but is still attractive.

Award apparel that gives winners a discount if they wear it in the restaurant – Some restaurants award a free shirt or hat for winning their challenge, and then give a special discount to the people that wear that shirt or hat when they come back and eat a normal meal at the restaurant. It’s usually 10% to 25% off, or a free small item.

Shirts made custom for losers are unnecessary – This is pretty rare, but some restaurants make custom shirts for the people that fail their challenge. This prize is a waste of money and effort by the restaurant 95% of the time because who is really going to wear a shirt that claims they are a loser or failure? Many people will wear a shirt proclaiming a victory, but if you provide a custom shirt for the losers, plan on that shirt getting thrown away or donated to charity. The shirt might be funny to everyone right afterwards, but it would be much smarter to take the cost of the shirt out of the challenge and lower the price which will attract even more attempts. If you want to give out a shirt to losers, just use one of the regular shirts that you sell to regular customers, because then there is a higher chance of the person actually wearing the shirt when he/she is out in public.

Making fancy certificates is unnecessary – Many restaurant award a certificate of completion for beating their challenge, but some restaurants go above and beyond by framing it. How many people are actually going to hang that certificate up in their house? How many wives will let their husband do that? The answer is definitely not many. It is one thing to award a certificate of achievement, but it is definitely unnecessary to spend the time and money framing it and making it fancy. Most certificates get thrown away anyway, so don’t waste your time.

Naming Rights – This occurs most on record challenges, but sometimes restaurants name the challenge after the current record holder. This is free to award, but can be a meaningful prize to the challenge winners.

A free hotel night or event tickets – This is a good prize idea for restaurants that are attached to a hotel or some type of event place. If a person wins your challenge, award them with a free night stay at the hotel that your restaurant is located next to or inside. If your restaurant is attached to an event center that has concerts and events, award 2 free tickets to a concert or other event. These cost next to nothing for you, if anything, but they are meaningful prizes. The same goes for casinos too. Some casino restaurants with challenges award free money to spend inside the casino. Most people give the casino money back, so that is a great option for you!!

Free bottle of liquor or bar glass – No man has ever turned down a free bottle of liquor, and not many people will turn down a free beer. Many people like to receive bar glasses too as souvenirs for their own bar or kitchen. If the challenge is bigger, and you are a bar, award a bottle of liquor to winners that are of drinking age. I have received bottles of liquor and champagne for winning challenges, and I have always accepted with a bright smile. If your challenge includes a large beer or drink that is served in a nice glass, award that nice glass to winners of the challenge to take home. If the challenge is smaller, award winners a beer or two, especially if you are a bar. This has nothing to do with beer, but it relates to the bar glasses. I once won an ice cream challenge served in a big glass serving dish. I got the glass dish as a prize which I gave to my mom, and she uses it often.

Voucher for free meal – Rather than gift cards, some restaurants award a voucher for a “free meal for two (or 4)” so that you and a date (or family) can come back at a later date and enjoy a free meal that will be on the house.

Progressive Jackpot – Some restaurants with tough challenges decide to have a progressive jackpot where the cash prize increases every time a person loses the challenge. A restaurant may start the prize at $100 and then increase the prize $5 every time someone loses. Then when somebody wins, the jackpot starts back over again.

Let the customer create a menu item – This prize works at restaurants that have a large selection of particular menu items like tacos, cheesesteaks, hot dogs, and other sandwiches. If a customer beats your challenge, that person gets to name and create a menu item. Eaters love winning this prize, and usually come back to try it!!

Let the customer roll the dice – I have only heard of this once, and I was completely intrigued by it. The bar and restaurant had a gambling theme, and they let the winners of their challenge decide their own fate by rolling a dice. There was a different prize for each number on the dice. A “1” meant that the meal would cost $1. One other number meant they had to pay full price. Another number meant it was half price. Another number meant that the meal was free and they got a gift card, and then another number meant that the person won $20. I don’t remember the final prize option, but that prize was extra unique. It would not be fun to have to pay full price, but the eater knew the possible prizes (and prices too) before attempting it. This was a great & fitting prize idea!!

As you can see, there is an unlimited number of prize ideas that you can award to customers that win your challenge. Hopefully these ideas sparked some thought and creativity for you. Now you also know what prizes not to award to people that lose your food challenge. The prize, just like the actual challenge, should fit your restaurant’s theme. More importantly, make sure the prizes for winning are worth attempting the challenge.

Thanks for reading about all the unique prize ideas and checking out!!

To go back and view other Creating A Challenge articles, click here.